2010 Fall Theatre Preview: 11 Best Shows in Chicago This Season

ANTICIPATION INDEX: Eleven plays to buy tickets for now

1. SCORCHED
Silk Road Theatre Project
October 6th through November 7th
Silk Road scores a major coup snagging the Chicago premiere of this Sophoclean tragedy by the Lebanon-born playwright Wajdi Mouawad. Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country where violence is so entrenched that nobody remembers the origins of the conflict, Scorched is part war story, part epic quest, part thriller, and part domestic drama. It is also your only chance this season to hear from a gifted writer whose star is on the rapid rise. 312-857-1234, ext. 201, srtp.org

2. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
Steppenwolf Theatre
December 2nd through February 6th
Nobody writes emotional evisceration like Edward Albee. And few can deliver it with the white-hot, scorched-earth intensity of Amy Morton and Tracy Letts. The two star as the slash-and-burn couple at the explosive heart of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? If Long Day’s Journey into Night’s James and Mary are the laudanum of toxic literary couples, Woolf’s George and Martha are the genre’s crystal meth—barreling along at 500 miles an hour, leaving staggering devastation in their wake. Did we mention this is one of the funniest dramas this side of August: Osage County? It is. 312-335-1650, steppenwolf.org

3. KINGSVILLE
Stage Left Theatre
October 19th through November 21st
With last season’s Suicide, Incorporated, the playwright Andrew Hinderaker reduced sold-out audiences to emotional smithereens for a twice-extended run at the Gift Theatre. Stage Left debuts Hinderaker’s second Chicago production, which shines a disquieting glare on the culture of homicide, handguns, and deadly machismo. Core controversial question: If students were armed, could they stop school shooters? Expect provocation. And tears. 773-883-8830, stagelefttheatre.com

4. TO MASTER THE ART
TimeLine Theatre
October 30th through December 19th
The playwrights Doug Frew and Bill Brown raise a glass to Julia Child. (See Julia Child’s Life and Romance Inspire To Master Her Art) 773-281-8463, timelinetheatre.com

5. THE MAMET REPERTORY
American Theatre Company
September 9th through October 31st
When the director Rick Snyder and the actor Darrell W. Cox team up, the results (Killer Joe, Orange Flower Water, Men of Tortuga) are combustible in the best possible sense. Add Mattie Hawkinson (Blackbird) and Lance Baker (Thom Pain) to the mix and you’ve got a killer formula for must-see theatre. The quartet will apply their formidable talents to David Mamet’s Oleanna, a sexual-harassment thriller, and Speed the Plow, a brutal portrait of artists as Hollywood sharks on the verge of several nervous breakdowns. To parse the situation in Mametian language, there’s no f*&%ing way we’re missing this one. 773-409-4125, atcweb.org

6. PETER PAN
Lookingglass Theatre
October 20th through December 12th
500 Clown instigator Molly Brennan as a pirate. ’Nuff said. But this dark and physical adaptation, conceived and directed by Amanda Dehnert, promises a treasure-trove of additional reasons to revisit Neverland. If ever there was a show amenable to Lookingglass’s flying-trapeze aesthetic, it’s Peter Pan, wherein there are no less than five airborne characters. 312-337-0665, lookingglasstheatre.org

7. THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
Court Theatre
September 16th through October 17th
It’s not a spoiler to note that in the final scene of Shakespeare’s stoopidest play, long-lost twins are reunited. The Big Reveal in the rule-breaking director Sean Graney’s staging will involve precisely how he’s going to pull off having one actor (Erik Hellman) play both of those twins. After all, in the original, said siblings have to converse with each other—in the same room. At the same time. Hellman pulled off some speedy switches playing multiple characters in last year’s The Mystery of Irma Vep, but Errors takes quick-change artistry to a whole ’nother level. 773-753-4472, courttheatre.org

8. THIEVES LIKE US
House Theatre
September 9th through October 30th
Thieves indicates an artistic expansion beyond the House’s usual suspects: Damon Kiely adapts Edward Anderson’s vintage crime novel; the deservedly ubiquitous Kimberly Senior directs. (No word yet on whether the plot will be punctuated by the rock-star stylings of the House founder/creative force Nathan Allen.) We’re hoping for something Bonnie and Clyde–ish, in the form of a live graphic novel. 773-251-2195, thehousetheatre.com

9 & 10. THE SEAGULL
Goodman Theatre
October 16th through November 15th
THE THREE SISTERS
Piven Theatre Workshop
October 18th through November 21st
Two iconoclasts have at two masterpieces by Chekhov, theatre’s most famous depressive Russian. Will Bob Falls bring the bombast to The Seagull? As for Sarah Ruhl’s take on The Three Sisters, we can only wonder if there will be umbrellas (as there were in her Dead Man’s Cell Phone and Eurydice), if it will be nominated for a Pulitzer (as was The Clean House), and if it will be quirkily whimsical and/or vaguely bizarre (as is pretty much everything Ruhl has written). The Seagull: 312-443-3800, goodmantheatre.org. The Three Sisters: 847-866-8049, piventheatre.org

11. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Remy Bumppo
November 24th through January 29th
Oscar Wilde’s popular satire is no groundbreaker, but the very notion of the Chicago actor David Darlow in Victorian dragon-lady drag is as inspired a bit of casting as you’ll find this fall. 773-404-7336, remybumppo.org

RELATED: FALL THEATRE PREVIEW 2010 »

 

Illustration: Lorenzo Petrantoni

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